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Music Journeys: Tom Rush

Shashona White
Tom Rush

Tom Rush has new music out and performed a special concert as part of the Central Ohio Folk Festival

In the latest installment of Music Journeys, Rush shares some stories and tells Mike Foley about his new release.    

Life Is Fine plays  

Life is more than fine these days for long-time musician Tom Rush. But if not for an older relative, he may have taken another path. 

"I was forced to take piano lessons for years and years, and it was a terrible experience for everyone involved - me, the teacher, innocent bystanders," he laughed. "But I had an older cousin who played the ukulele. This guy could take a lit cigarette, flip it back into his mouth, dive into the swimming pool and blow smoke bubbles from underwater. When you're 10 years old, that's huge. He taught me how to play a bunch of silly songs that were great. That's when I decided that music can be fun."

Rush has been credited with helping to shape the nation's folk music revival in the 1960's. Voices marks his first recorded material in nearly a decade. It also represents the first time he wrote most of the songs, 10 of the 12 to be exact. But even he has a hard time explaining where they came from.  

"The other two are traditional songs because I didn't want to compromise my folk singer credentials," he said. "So this one, I don't know where the songs came from. They just started popping in out of nowhere, and I thought I have enough songs for an album - and we did."

Voices plays

"The song that I named the aIbum after is one that people seem to respond to very positively," Rush said. "It's basically saying there's a lot going on that we miss because we're not paying attention. There's one I wrote for my bride, another quiet song called Far Away."

Far Away plays

"But I don't like to tell people what songs mean," he added. "Each person that listens to a song brings their own experience to it. So it's kind of a team effort between the writer and the listener. I don't think it's appropriate for the writer or the musician to tell you what the song is supposed to me. It means whatever resonates with you and your particular circumstance."

How Can She Dance Like That plays

Variety is probably the best descriptor of Rush's latest collection of songs. After more than five decades in music, Rush still enjoys performing.

“It’s fun with a capital F,” Rush said. “Getting up on stage and sharing songs that you really love is a terrific experience. I still love doing shows. The traveling gets a little harder all the time, partly because of Homeland Security and partly because I'm not 23 anymore. I look at the shows as being a vacation and an oasis for people. I hope they go away fresh, and energized, and happy.” 

Rush says he's never tried to control the direction the music takes, so he'll continue to write and record as the songs come to him. He's in the process of writing a couple books and even delving into art by creating sculptures. He sure crafted some good songs on Voices.

My Best Girl plays

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.
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